They say your diet is the most important part of any bulk, yet people still seem to think they can make gains by working out and eating whatever random foods they get their hands on. The truth is that executing a proper diet takes a lot of planning and effort. Simply put, if you want to get big you need to eat the right foods. If you aren’t sure where to start, don’t worry – we’ve got you covered. We’ve put together a list of 7 of our favorite muscle-building foods. Start building your diet around these and you will definitely see your gains take off!
1 – Eggs
Eggs are without a doubt one of the most popular bodybuilding foods out there. Simple, cheap and flexible, bodybuilders have been incorporating eggs into their diet since before Arnold even picked up a barbell. They are packed with protein and healthy fats and cholesterol – both of which are important for guys looking to build mass. However, in recent years we’ve been seeing a lot of guys throwing out the yolks in order to get only the lean protein found in the egg whites. While this might seem like a smart strategy, it actually hurts your gains in the long run.
The yolks found in eggs are loaded with healthy fats and cholesterol. While not “lean” protein sources like the egg white portion, the yolks are important because the cholesterol and fats will actually boost your testosterone levels. As a result, your body will be more likely to turn nutrients you consume into muscle mass rather than fat.
If you aren’t sure how to incorporate eggs into your diet there are a few options. First, you can make yourself an omelet with veggies mixed in. You can also mix in various types of meat in order to boost the protein and fat content. If you can’t stomach the taste of eggs in the morning simply have them later in the day. There is a misconception that you need to have eggs in the morning for breakfast but in reality you can have them whenever you want.
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2 – Beef
Like eggs, beef is another bodybuilding staple. Steaks in particular are a great source of protein and nutrients. In fact, they contain more B vitamins, zinc and iron than chicken breast. While beef might have a higher calorie count that chicken, it also contains lots of saturated fat which, like egg yolks, will boost your testosterone levels.
Steaks can be quite filling, so if you are having a hard time hitting your daily calorie target then try eating more ground beef with higher fat content. The calorie count will be higher and it is easier to eat. It also mixes well with veggies and various carb sources. If you are an aspiring bodybuilder and you don’t like beef – you need to start liking it!
3 – Whey Protein
At this point just about everyone know what whey protein is. Tons of mainstream restaurants and smoothie bars offer smoothies and other foods that contain whey protein isolate to boost the protein content. In addition to being convenient, whey protein isolate is the fastest absorbing protein out there. That means the protein will get to your muscles quickly so they can help rebuild muscle tissue after a tough workout.
Whey protein is also helpful early in the morning when you are breaking your 8 hour fast. The nutrients will get into your system quickly and the shake doesn’t take long to prepare making it a solid choice. There are a lot of options for how to incorporate whey protein into your diet. You can mix it into a smoothie, add it to oatmeal or bake it into your favorite recipes. While it is extremely convenient and flexible, try to avoid getting too much of your protein from whey. We know guys who drink 3-4 shakes per day – that’s a bit too much in opinion as whole foods should still make up the majority of your diet.
4 – Cottage Cheese
We recommended whey protein isolate primarily because it is the fastest absorbing protein out there. However, there are times when fast-absorbing protein is not what you need. For example, if you know you will be going a long time without eating, such as before bedtime, you are better off eating something that is slow absorbing. That way you will get a steady supply of nutrients and you won’t risk going catabolic (body breaking down muscle tissue for nutrients).
Now, cottage cheese isn’t exactly the most aesthetic looking food. In fact, we know people who can’t even look at the stuff without gagging. It’s one of those you either hate it or love it foods. If you can get over the appearance and texture, you will find cottage cheese is actually very tasty and contains virtually no sugar or carbs.
If you want to increase the number of calories you can add almonds or even peanut butter to your cottage cheese. You also have the flexibility of choosing a cottage cheese product that is higher in fat content (such as 3% instead of 1%) to boost the calories. Finally, cottage cheese makes for a convenient snack – simply put some in a small tupperware container (or buy the pre-packaged individual serving sizes) and bring it to work with you. It will help you feel full for those long stretches of meetings.
5 – Skinless Chicken Breast
Ok so we know we were bashing chicken breast earlier but it’s not all bad. Chicken breast has fallen out of favor lately for it’s low dietary fat content. However, if you are already getting plenty of dietary fat from other sources in your diet then feel free to indulge in some skinless chicken breast. It’s one of the best lean protein sources out there and can be worked into a variety of recipes.
We recommend preparing your chicken over the weekend and dish it out into individual tupperware containers to eat throughout the week. By preparing your meals in advance you will reduce the risk of consuming too many cheat meals out of laziness. After all, we don’t always feel like cooking up a meal after a long day of work.
6 – Greek Yogurt
One of the reasons you don’t see many people talking about cottage cheese anymore is because Greek yogurt has become increasingly popular. Many people prefer the taste and texture of greek yogurt and find it mixes better with other ingredients. The one thing you need to keep in mind is to avoid the ones that contain added sugar. Always opt for the plain variety and add your own ingredients. Other than that, greek yogurt is a great option to add some flexibility to your diet.
7 – Testosterone Booster
Alright so technically testosterone boosters aren’t high-protein foods, but they are worth mentioning on this list. When your testosterone levels are high your body is more likely to convert protein and other nutrients into muscles. You will also have more energy, increased strength and recover faster. In other words, you will have a much easier time making gains. In fact, even if your entire diet and training program is perfect you will struggle to make gains if your hormone levels are not in balance.
When it comes to testosterone boosters we always recommend taking a high quality product. While it can be tempting to purchase something cheaper, the truth is that you will ultimately just hurt your own gains. Instead, spend a bit more money and get a product that is loaded with natural ingredients that are scientifically proven to boost testosterone levels. Click here to check out our dedicated testosterone boosters page to learn more.